Fw: CBDTPA bans everything from two-line BASIC programs to PCs

Luis Villa louie@ximian.com
26 Mar 2002 13:24:54 -0500


Gillmor also has a great and very-nearly-readable-by-my-parents column
on the subject here:

http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/business/columnists/dan_gillmor/2922048.htm

Luis

On Tue, 2002-03-26 at 13:19, karee@tstonramp.com wrote:
> Just in case everyone is sleeping through this one ...
> 
> We do not need a DMCA 2.
> 
> 
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Declan McCullagh" <declan@well.com>
> To: <politech@politechbot.com>
> Sent: Monday, March 25, 2002 8:00 PM
> Subject: FC: CBDTPA bans everything from two-line BASIC programs to PCs
> 
> 
> > Just in case folks haven't figured out how sweeping the Hollings-Feinstein
> > bill, aka CBDTPA is, well, keep reading.
> >
> > The CBDTPA says that if I were to write and sell this BASIC program...
> >
> > 10 INPUT A$
> > 20 PRINT A$
> >
> > ...after the regulations take effect, I would be guilty of a federal
> > felony. That's up to five years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine.
> > Distributing my two-line application without charging for it, either via
> > handing out floppies or by posting it on a website would be at least a
> > civil offense and, depending on the circumstances, a crime as well.
> >
> > It's no joke. CBDTPA regulates "any hardware or software that reproduces
> > copyrighted works in digital form." My program above does that, especially
> > if my BASIC interpreter permits arbitrarily long strings.
> >
> > The business end of the CBDTPA says that "a manufacturer, importer, or
> > seller" of such software cannot "sell, or offer for sale, in interstate
> > commerce, or cause to be transported in, or in a manner affecting,
> > interstate commerce" their code unless it "includes and utilizes standard
> > security technologies that adhere to the security system standards adopted
> > under section 3."
> >
> > The FCC gets to invent those. But I can't see how my two-line program is
> > going to incorporate such standards. If I'm using C, must I "#include
> > <sys/copycheck.h>?" In Perl, will I "use Parse::DRMVerify?" If so, who at
> > the FCC will ensure that these modules are available for the languages I'm
> > using? (It is true that folks at the FCC are smarter than the folks in
> > Congress, though that is not saying much. FCC staff will try to make the
> > standards workable. But the CBDTPA gives them -- and the public --
> precious
> > little wiggle room.)
> >
> > By design, programming languages are terribly flexible. The only way to
> > prevent software from removing do-not-copy bits from digital content would
> > be for Congress to ban the programmable PC. And replace it, perhaps, with
> > WebTV television-top boxes.
> >
> > In case you're curious, the felony penalties kick in when you try to sell
> > your post-ban BASIC program -- not to mention any commercial software --
> > and perhaps even if you're a free software developer hoping to gain
> > reputation capital from your code.
> >
> > They say that violators "shall be fined not more than $500,000 or
> > imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for the first offense; and
> > shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10
> > years, or both, for any subsequent offense."
> > (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/1204.html)
> >
> > Yes, this is silly. No, it is probably (I hope) not what senators Hollings
> > and Feinstein and their colleagues intended. Yet it is what the text of
> the
> > bill says. And this is after the good senators had seven months of
> > correspodnence from computer scientists and industry representatives
> > worried about the scope of the legislation after it was widely circulated
> > in August 2001.
> >
> > Don't believe me? Read it for yourself:
> >
> > Text of CBDTPA:
> > http://www.politechbot.com/docs/cbdtpa/
> >
> > Politech archive on the CBDTPA:
> > http://www.politechbot.com/cgi-bin/politech.cgi?name=cbdtpa
> >
> > -Declan
> >
> >
> >
> >
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